England after the rain

In 2005 Carlisle was unexpectedly hit by devastating floods and 1600 properties were affected directly. Many householders lost everything and when the water subsided, every home affected had a skip outside. It took some over a year  before they were able to return and then on 5th December 2015, when those same residents were preparing to celebrate Christmas, they were flooded out again in the aftermath of storm Desmond’s record breaking rainfall. This time 2100 properties were inundated.

Carlisle is at the confluence of three major rivers, the Rivers Eden, Caldew and Petteril, and is therefore highly prone to flooding. The city has a long history of flooding with notable floods in 1771, 1822, 1856, 1925, 1968 and more recently in 2005. The 2015 flood level on the River Eden was 0.6m higher than in 2005.


The 1/8 scale model pictured, is a work in progress and is being created by Phil for C-Art Cumbrian Artist of the Year 2017. Note the logo on the side of the skip which is the alchemy symbol for gold rising  out of the alchemy symbol for water. It resembles a cocktail glass. Some did undoubtedly profit from the misfortune of others.

The prophesy shown above was on the front page of the 2005 Cumberland News souvenir edition. Today, some properties still have a skip outside. Some homeowners have left for good, their houses up for sale or sold at auction.


The Importance of Being Hair-nest

‘A carrier bag?’ ….. the boys have been stripped to reveal their sleek spring coats and we asked to keep the hair as we thought it would make excellent nesting material.


A whole carrier bag full;  enough here to bring up several broods in comfort!


Nuthatch plan

Two years ago we had high hopes that our hole in the wall nest would be occupied  by a pair of Nuthatch.


They spent a lot of time plastering the hole and preparing the nest only to disappear. This year the new encumbents have invested a lot of time and we’ve watched them plastering and bringing pieces of wood home to line the nest.


There is much warbling and singing first thing in the morning and we see them coming and going during the day before they return for the night around 7pm.


Now this looks promising! Fingers crossed for chicks coming soon.

Hand to mouth…

On a recent visit to  The Brunswick Yard in Penrith, we got chatting to Sam; a vintner who runs his business Black Hand Wine from there. He describes his business as ‘real wine, organic wine, biodynamic wine, local spirits, local beers, real wine know-how, wine tastings, wine advice, food and wine matching, wine making’. We came away with a couple of bottles of inspiration…


He also sells bottles straight from the barrel. This week he was offering  a tasty organic vin rouge.


You buy the bottle as part of your initial purchase then bring it back for a refill.

Upfront Open 2017

Upfront 2017 Open Exhibition, Unthank Farm, Unthank, Penrith, CA11 9TG

Tuesday 24th January – Sunday 19th March 2017

The gallery has a vegetarian coffee shop and gift shop.

The Upfront Open Exhibition for 2017 welcomes entries from all artists. The purpose of the show is to exhibit a wealth and wide cross section of artistic talent. The panel of judges choose an eclectic mix of work in various media and styles, both 2D and 3D. The exhibition displays around 100 selected works at Upfront’s various gallery spaces.

Phil has had 2 paintings accepted. The judges will select a winner and award a prize.


‘Nether Denton Roman Fort (Northern Topographic Series)’, Carved relief into board/metal leaf and oil paint, 607mm X 787mm.


‘Hope & Glory’ Carved relief into board/metal leaf and oil paint, 595mm X 362mm


Jail birds…

Update from DEFRA is that the H5N8 strain of avian flu has been confirmed at a poultry farm in Lincolnshire, at a premises in Carmarthenshire, Wales, and at a premises near Settle in North Yorkshire, and restrictions are in place. The same strain has also been found in wild birds in England, Scotland and Wales. Risks to public health are very low and avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
We are currently required by law to keep our bantams separate from wild birds, so we have moved the bird feeders well away and are keeping ours within their Eglu run. This requirement (the Prevention Zone) has now been extended until 28 February 2017.


We’ve ordered a clear plastic run cover in the hope that at least they will get some daylight (and perhaps some sunshine) on their little faces while they are confined.